Inflammatory Bowel Disease – IBD
What Is Inflammatory Bowel Disease?
Inflammatory bowel disease, also known as IBD, is a chronic autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks various parts of the digestive tract. Doctors and researchers are unsure of the exact cause or trigger. However, it is important not to confuse IBD with the much less serious condition, irritable bowel syndrome.
Patients can develop IBD at any point in time but it typically appears between the ages of 15 and 30. Factors such as family history, smoking, demographics, and diet appear to increase the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease. It is estimated that more than 1 million people in the US are affected by IBD.
Types of IBD
IBD is made up of two distinct conditions, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The similarities between the two disorders can often make it difficult to diagnose which form the patient may have. The main difference between the two types is which part of the digestive tract is affected.
Ulcerative colitis affects the top layers of the large intestine and the colon. This type of IBD causes inflammation within the lining of the intestine and causes patients to develop ulcers. In addition, ulcerative colitis can occur in the rectal area which leads to severe diarrhea.
Crohn’s disease affects the last part of the small intestine and parts of the large intestine. Additionally, Crohn’s disease can occur anywhere along the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. In contrast to ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease affects all layers of the intestinal wall, not just the top layers.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Symptoms
Patients can experience a variety of IBD symptoms depending on which type they have. Shared symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease include:
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain
When you first come to Concorde Gastroenterology one of our physicians will conduct a physical and medical examination. Following that, we conduct the following diagnostic tests to confirm IBD.
- Blood tests
- Stool analysis
- Barium X-ray
How do we treat IBD?
Each patient has a different experience with IBD so treatment options will vary. Anti-inflammatory drugs or immunosuppressive medication can help manage a majority of cases. This will prevent the immune system from attacking the digestive tract. Some patients find that diet modification can help reduce IBD symptoms and replace nutrients that have been lost. In addition, managing stress and resting are shown to improve symptoms. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.